The Virgins
Matthew 25:1-13
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened to ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.…

Amongst the great truths taught in this parable we notice these.


1. In either things men may be indifferent.

(1) Thus in questions of science: one dogmatist may assert that gravitation is the effect of attraction as a property in matter. Another may bold attraction in matter to be a mechanical absurdity. It is of little consequence should a third person suspend his judgment. The cosmos will not go to pieces because he cannot determine how its elements are kept together.

(2) So in questions of politics: some may stoutly contend that a liberal policy is the least revolutionary and safest for the commonwealth. Others may as stoutly oppose this view. A third party may see difficulties on either band, and be unable to come to any conclusion. The world will not wait for him to make up his mind.

2. But the relations of existence forbid neutrality in religion.

(1) Here the Divine claims upon the individual are urgent. To neglect these is to treat the Almighty with contempt. Such an offence is the reverse of trifling. Negligence here is damnable.

(2) Here also are urgent human claims. Every man is his brother's keeper, responsible to God for his influence upon his brother.

(3) We are responsible also to ourselves. Every man has to live with his own conscience. His eternal happiness or misery depends upon the opinion his companion has of him. He is made respectable and happy, or otherwise, according to the nature of his relation to the question of religion.

(4) If God forsake the sinner, Satan will compel him. Neutrality, therefore, is out of the question. We can only vanquish Satan by the help of God. Our possibilities are infinitely grand or mean. To be a son of God, what more glorious! To be a serf of Satan, what more despicable!


1. The world appeals vividly to sense.

(1) Hence in the Bridegroom's absence there is a disposition to slumber. The glitter and whirl of the world's excitement drowns and stupefies the spiritual sense.

(2) Faith is the counteractant. It acts by what Dr. Chalmers calls "the expulsive power of a new affection." Realizing vividly the superior glories of the spiritual world, we gain the victory over the world of sense.

2. The foolish sleep without oil in their vessels.

(1) Some foolish ones have no lamps, no profession of religion. These are the people outside the Churches. They are the people of the world. Many of these go to sleep pluming themselves upon being "better than many of those who do profess."

(2) Others go to sleep because they have lamps - because they are professors, though they have no oil in their vessels, no grace of God in their hearts. How many trust for salvation to their Church membership rather than to Christ! Useless is the oil-less lamp.

3. Even the wise are found sleeping.

(1) Some think "sleep" here means death. This, however, scarcely comports with the grand inference and application of the argument, "Watch." The exhortation surely comes too late to the dead.

(2) Is there not a sense in which the Churches generally are asleep - the wise as well as the foolish? Are not Christians, taken generally, far too worldly? How little of holy scorn do we feel for the pleasures of the vain and frivolous! Is there not also a culpable supineness in relation to the condition of the world perishing around us? What excitement would there be in a ship's crew while a man overboard remained unrescued! What excitement in a crowd while an inmate of a house on fire remained unsaved! Where is our faith in the perishing condition of the world of sinners, and in the saving efficacy of the Redeemer's blood? Are we not paralyzed by our unbelief?


1. All examinee themselves at the judgment.

(1) That will be the "midnight," viz. of the world. The sun shall be darkened.

(2) Then shall the midnight "cry" be raised. It will be discerned in the crash of the thunders; in the growling of the earthquakes; in the roar of the fire of the great conflagration; in the ever-aggravating vibrations of the trump of God.

(3) All will then be raised from their graves. "Then all those virgins arose." The unjust as well as the just will respond to that voice, and come forth from their graves.

2. All examine themselves in dying.

(1) The hour of dying is the midnight of life. The world then recedes from the senses, or, which is the same, the senses are closing upon the world.

(2) The midnight cry is then heard in the thunderings of the Law and in the terrors of the Lord. The echoes are awakened in the conscience. The death rattle in the throat is a solemn alarm.

(3) In such a crisis all the virgins are astir. The wise are excited to look to their lamps and their oil. Happy are they when they find the grace that can sustain and nourish the light of a good profession. The foolish look with consternation upon their oil-less vessels.


1. Trusting to works of supererogation.

(1) These were invented about the end of the twelfth century. It is founded upon what the papists call "counsels of perfection," or rules which do not bind under the penalty of sin, but are only useful in carrying men to a greater degree of perfection than is necessary to salvation. This dogma is repugnant to Holy Scripture (cf. Matthew 5:48; Philippians 2:12). In due time the popes, to give colour to their doctrine of indulgences, claimed to have the custody of the fund of the superabundant merits of Christ and of his saints, and enriched their coffers by the sale of these.

(2) Could there be a prophetic irony in the advice of the wise virgins to the foolish, "Go ye to them that sell"? The irony is terrible when taken in connection with the sequel, that when they returned with the oil so procured it availed them nothing.

2. Trusting to the infallible final perseverance of the saints.

(1) The lamps of the foolish virgins once had light, else they could not have "gone out."

(2) Their lamps went out while they slept. Imperceptibly the oil of grace was consumed, while no effort was made to replenish the store.

(3) The sequel is that they find themselves shut out.

3. Trusting to the opportunities of the future.

(1) While the Bridegroom tarried, the foolish virgins slept without making any provision of oil for their lamps. Lo here the very spirit of procrastination.

(2) When the alarm of the presence of the Bridegroom rouses them, they make a desperate rush to prepare for him; but all now is unavailing. The procession is formed without them, and they are shut out in the darkness.

(3) importunity now comes too late. It was all over with the antediluvian procrastinators when the door of the ark was shut.

(4) The moral, then, is - Watch. Watch, because the time is uncertain. Watch, because the event is sure. - J.A.M.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

WEB: "Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom.

The Use of Divine Delayings
Top of Page
Top of Page